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In Solidarity!

Over the last year Russia as attracted considerable attention at an international level. People from afar have been watching closely the developments concerning LGBT and human rights abuses in Russia with horror, astonishment and incomprehension. In solidarity, directors of the films that have been programmed this year have written statements of support to Side by Side and the Russian LGBT community.

Ira Sachs - Keep the Lights On

"I grew up post-Stonewall and I lived through gay marriage laws passing and the repeal of Dont Ask Dont Tell. I feel safe in my home, at work, in my neighborhood, and in my city. As a gay man living in New York City in 2013, I do not often think about what life would be like if I did not feel safe and comfortable in my environment, because I dont have to. But the current situation concerning gay rights in Russia forces me to think about what other peoples lives are like. No one should have to live in fear of discrimination and violence against them and their family for being gay. Everyday my thoughts and prayers go out to all the LGBT people in Russia who are so unjustly persecuted for a way of being that is not only normal, its beautiful.

What do I have to say? My dreams are simple, naïve really. I dream of a world without hate, about life without fear, about people with no malice. It is so simple and yet so difficult. The most important thing in this world is to find your calling. Some help the homeless, others paint, others forge steel and I do what I can to help LGBT teenagers. To help people is the greatest happiness. I hope for a better tomorrow; I hope that everything is in our hands.  

Travis Mathews, James Franco Interior. Leather Bar

I don't think there's any honor greater than being programmed with Side by Side this year. In a moment in Russian history when it seems there's a weekly crackdown on LGBT people - and those presumed to be - it's a stunning act of bravery that Side by Side is moving forward with their festival. Although the world is beginning to see this oppressive regime in terms of human rights abuses, it's impossible to know what it's like to live under such fear. And from the outside, it's hard to know how best to help those being impacted within Russia. What is clear is how this government is moving from a place of insecurity, and from a place of desperation, looking for scapegoats and distractions. Such fear-mongering has a long shadow in world history and one that is slowly breaking apart in governments around the globe; It can't happen soon enough in Russia. Our thoughts are with you and our wishes for a safe and inspired festival.

Tessa Millesse - Wrong 

Here in Australia, we are watching in dismay as the unfortunate events unfold in your country. We want you to know that we stand with you in your struggle for freedom and equality. We encourage you to stay proud and strong in the face of this attack from your own government, because we know, having experienced it ourselves, that the power of our love is undeniable and irrepressible. It will win out in the end. An army of lovers cannot fail. In solidarity.

Myriam Fougère  Lesbiana: A Parallel Revolution

Here in Canada and in Québec, we are deeply concerned about the status of lesbians, gays and transgendered people in Russia. There was a "kiss in" in front of the Russian Embassy in Montreal in September, 2013. We feel for you, we will not be free until all of us are free to be who we are. Courage in the struggle! We are with you!

David Weissman We Were Here

"At a time when the LGBT movement is making huge progress towards full legal equality in many parts of the world, Russia is disgracing itself by choosing another path. Allying itself with particularly despotic regimes in Africa, the middle-east and elsewhere, and with religious fascists of every variety, Russia is choosing the path of hatred, ignorance, and oppression. We who are watching from afar are inspired by the courage of those of you who can stand up for your rights and dignity in spite of the risks you are taking with your safety. I am honored that the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival is showing my film "We Were Here", and I hope it's can be a source of strength and inspiration to your community, as your struggle is an inspiration to us."

Myriam Donasis A Belgian Caper

"If I stick to the proposed wikipedia (web dictionary) definition, freedom of expression is a fundamental freedom.

Its antithesis is censorship.

The techniques of propaganda based on current research in the field of psychology and in the communication. They focus on the manipulation of emotions at the expense of the powers of reasoning and judgment.

For me, cinema is an art. A participation in the freedom of expression and in no way is it propaganda."

Rafael Aidar - The Package

"Throughout the world I have been following the numerous efforts made by the GLBT community to stand against the homophobic crimes committed in Russia. It is with surprise and excitement that I received the news that the Side by Side Festival will be held in 2013 a clear sign of inspiring courage and endurance. I identify myself with this fight. After all, there are no geographical or cultural boundaries when the goal is to combat prejudice, ignorance and non-acceptance of basic principles of human rights. And it is through our voice and our art that we can leave our mark and shout to the world that we want to live with dignity and equality under the colors of our flag. Side by side, we are stronger."

Elena Rue - Shared Origins

As a strong supporter of LGBT rights worldwide, I am saddened by the current situation in Russia. The new laws enacted this year deepen discrimination and intimidation in an already homophobic country. But these circumstances also create a greater need for festivals like Side By Side. LGBT organizations operating in Russia are bold and brave. I truly believe that stories can change the world and by continuing to operate in Russia, Side by Side will help make it a more tolerant and welcoming place. I made Shared Origins because I wanted to show people in LGBT communities that its possible to overcome fears and societal norms and create a loving family. It is a privilege and an honor to show it at this festival.

Benjamin Parent - It's Not a Cowboy Movie

About fifty years ago, in France, this expression was often used: Were not in Russia. That meant: Were not a dictatorship, we live in a free country. Whenever we felt forced or persecuted, and even if it was insignificant, it was said Hey, were not in Russia.

Then this expression, with the fall of the Wall, disappeared. Russia was opening to the world. Your country was losing, slowly but surely, all the clichés attached to authoritarianism. But recently, with all the successive re-elections of your president, another wall arose, a wall of intolerance.

Since then, that popular expression has returned. When you live in a country where you do not imprison neither political opponents nor journalists. When you live in a country where homosexuals can hold hands, kiss or even get married, then you can be sure that youre not in Russia. And this is with great sadness that I tell you this, because I know that its your reality, a reality that you cannot escape. Hold on tight friends, hold on tight. This new Wall will fall one day.

Michael Ogden The Only Gay on the Estate?

It is one thing to be on the end of homophobic abuse from your friend or your neighbour, your cousin or your aunt. However, when a state, a government or a nation turns against you for what you are, for your very existence; your right to be, then the burden and the pressure must become almost too much to bare. But dont give up, dont give in. When they strike you do not flinch. Stand tall and live out loud.

Iris Moore Beyond the Mirror's Gaze

"Side by Side film festival represents a minority culture that experiences constant oppression and marginalization, the key word being culture. From what Ive read it appears that cultural organizations are supposed to be exempt from the Foreign Agency Act. It would seems to me that any film festival that includes international artists, hosts discussions and lectures, and provides an inside look at a prevalent subculture should not be considered as anything but culturally educational. Independent NGOs who represent minority cultures should be supported, not suppressed. Side by Side has my full gratitude and support."

Rodrigo Barriuso, Director & Davina Rimmer, Producer For Dorian

Over the course of 2013, our film 'For Dorian' has been fortunate enough to enjoy international success on the queer film festival circuit. This success has given us an incredible opportunity to celebrate what the LGBT community has achieved at a global level. Each screening and each gathering has been an opportunity to remind ourselves that if we stand tall and united, great things can be achieved. Side by Side is, however, the most important LGBT film festival where we have had the pleasure of screening 'For Dorian'. We salute the bravery and courage of the festival organizers and participants, who fiercely continue to fight back in times of uncertainty for Russia's LGBT community. We thank them for the opportunity to add our voice to this important protest. The current political situation in Russia is a cold reminder that the fight for equality and social justice is still as important and vital as it was 50 years ago. Hateful and discriminatory laws that promote fear, ignorance, homophobia and irrational acts of violence will not silence the voices of those who refuse to be stripped of their fundamental rights. As members of the LGBT community and straight allies we will continue to use our art to the best of our ability, to educate and fight for a more inclusive world. Time will prove them to be on the wrong side of history, yet again.

Jason Sax Do You Have a Cat?

I am a proud straight filmmaker of a short film featuring a bisexual lead character. I fully support the Russian LGBT community in their fight against oppression. And I am inspired by the international community's continued support of the Russian LGBT community.

Anthony Schatteman Kissing Me Softly

I cannot imagine how it would be to live in the situation where Russia is in right now. Living in Belgium had always been easy for me as a gay person. Though I have had some troubles with guys that were homophobic, I see that Belgium is going for the same rights. It's hard for me as a young person to imagine how young people cannot be themselves. My film is also about that subject. If you hide who you are, you cannot be yourself and you will not live as a happy person. So I hope that the situation might change soon and that the world will see that, if you're too big or too small, too fat or to skinny, too gay or too straight; we are all the same inside.

Panx Tabao Solajes - Erintes (Touch)

"The LGBT community in the recent years mobilize, demand and fight for the privilege to exercise the rights that every human equally deserves. Stereotypes and preconceptions propagated by conservative groups (in power) are questioned and made obsolete through intellectual dialogue and critical art. Tolerance and acceptance are to be replaced with integration because belonging to the LGBT community is not a mistake that needs to be tolerated or a flaw that has to be accepted. Power tripping and political repression plague the LGBT community at present but this only signifies the predators' fears; and of our voice growing louder, gathering strength and shaking the columns of corruption, repression and oppression. We will continue to fight for equality and respect because we will always deserve equality and respect."

Christopher Stollery DIK

I guess I'm being translated into Russian here - so I should careful!

As Yelena Isinbayeva demonstrated when she spoke out in English, it is very easy to make an arse of yourself.  If you have an arse as good as hers, all can be forgiven. I have no such guarantee... What do I know?

I'm not Russian. Nor a lawmaker. I'm not even gay. But the new Russian laws are a bit hard to understand.  Dik is all about being misunderstood - something gay people deal with every day.

I dream of a world where we could avoid labels wherever possible. All just relax a bit and let one another be. However, it does seem the Russian legislators are a bit homophobic?  Or maybe, like Andrew in my film, they are just immature and dyslexic?

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